Checking your dog for ticks may not sound like the most exciting task for a pet owner, but it’s a very important one to remember nevertheless. Our four-legged friends are counting on us to take care of them and that includes fighting off anything that could potentially hurt them. Follow along to learn not only how to check your dogs for ticks but also where to check your dogs for ticks.
What Are Ticks?
A tick is a parasitic arachnid that attaches itself to the skin of a terrestrial vertebrate, such as your pet, from which it sucks blood, and only vacates when fully sated. In the United States, ticks are responsible for spreading potentially-life threatening infectious diseases by feeding on the blood of their host. Some species have even been known to transmit diseases such as tularemia and Lyme disease in dogs.
As ticks climb from mammal-to-mammal, they infect their hosts with certain pathogens and also pick up disease-causing bacteria themselves. That means that ticks can be carrying around multiple diseases at once. For this reason and for many others, ticks are definitely not the kind of visitor you want establishing residence on your pet.
While ticks do not discriminate when it comes to which animal they will attach to, dogs are greater targets as they often spend more time outdoors. This higher susceptibility to disease makes it even more important to know how to check your dog for ticks. And if you are living in an area that has a warmer climate year-round, you may be required to check your dog more often.
How To Check For Ticks
Tick prevention is possible if you take the appropriate precautions and are proactive in your efforts. In an ideal world, professionals suggest checking your dog every day, especially during tick season which is typical during Spring, Summer, and Fall. While medications out there do exist to help deter these unsightly bloodsuckers from attaching to your pet, there are a few preventative measures you can be taking at home before opting for a visit to the vet.
Depending on the size of your dog or how thick or fluffy their coat is, finding these pesky parasites can become even more of a challenge. To start, brush your fingers through their fur while applying enough pressure to feel any small bumps. Adult ticks can be as small as a sesame seed making them incredibly difficult to find.
One important reason to stay on top of your dog’s tick prevention is to keep the female ticks from hatching their eggs and further spreading potential canine bacterial infection and disease. A female lays several thousand eggs at a time, so it’s safe to say that in a battle between you and the ticks, the ticks definitely have you outnumbered.
Where To Check For Ticks
Now that you know how to check, the next step is knowing where to check your dog for ticks. In addition to checking the most visible or easily accessible areas on your dog, also be sure to check those less obvious spots. Search between your dog’s toes, behind their ears, under their armpits and around the tail and head as well.
Other places to check that you might not be aware of include inside his ears, around the genital area, around the eyelids and collar area. Ticks are able to hide in even the closest of quarters making them especially hard to find on larger-sized dogs.
Removing A Tick On Your Own
In the end, as dog owners, we can only do our best to ensure our pets are as healthy as they can be. But sometimes, we just are not able to avoid all of the potential dangers out there, as hard as we might try. So, if you do happen to come across a tick during your search, there are certain ways to go about removing it.
- Helping your dog to relax will make the entire removal process much easier. Calming them down will also help you to avoid stabbing or pinching their skin with your tweezers if they do happen to panic or move abruptly.
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Make sure you feel comfortable using tweezers before first using them on your dog.
- To remove the tick, pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this does happen, try your best to remove the mouth-parts with tweezers as much as possible. If you are unable to remove the mouthpieces easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After you have removed the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Now that you’ve plucked those pesky critters off your pet, it’s time to kick them to the curb. Dispose of a live tick by:
- Submerging it in alcohol
- Placing it in a sealed bag or container
- Wrapping it tightly in tape
- Flushing it down the toilet
- As a side note, never crush a tick with your fingers.
By following these instructions above, you will be able to ensure that your dog is tick-free all year long! Remember, the best way to avoid a tick problem is to limit a dog’s exposure to them. Talk to your veterinarian for further tips on treating ticks with your furry friend!